Posted: 3/12/19

TAMIU Teacher Preparation Graduate Part of “We Teach Texas” Story


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Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) Master of Science in Education recent graduate Lorena Cestou realized she could impact the world positively through teaching when she participated in a University-led, service-learning opportunity in the Dominican Republic.

Cestou’s experience is being shared as part of The Texas A&M University’s state-wide campaign, “We Teach Texas,” focused on encouraging teaching careers.  TAMIU and the 11 universities of the A&M System produce more fully certified teachers than any other university system in Texas.

“We Teach Texas,” affirms the role of teachers and maintains “every success story starts in a classroom…become a teacher. 

Cestou recalled her TAMIU experience in the Dominican Republic which she said affirmed her career choice. It’s featured in a video about “We Teach Texas.”

“Several students and I had the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic, specifically the west side of the island that borders with Haiti, and we were able to teach women and children who live in the sugar cane plantations and it was an amazing way to realize that teaching is what I want to do for the rest of my life and that I can change the world through teaching,” she said, “I wish to teach not only locally, but also internationally, and I’m very grateful to TAMIU for giving me the opportunity to be able to study abroad and teach in other communities.”

TAMIU College of Education students conduct language development workshops in the bateyesor sugar cane plantations of the Dominican Republic, where women and children live in extreme poverty, explained Dr. Tonya Huber, Education professor.

The service-learning initiative supports the TAMIU College of Education’s commitment to the United Nations’ Education 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. These include ending hunger, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, and ending abuse, exploitation and trafficking.

“For many of our students, it’s their first time out of the country, even out of the area of Laredo, and it’s their first time to be immersed in a culture totally different than their own,” said Dr. Huber, “They become aware that issues of literacy and equity are really important globally, not just here locally.”

TAMIU College of Education Dean Dr. James O’Meara said TAMIU’s teacher preparation program equips students with knowledge and practical problem-solving skills that transcend books and classrooms.

“We are an international University that impacts locally by preparing career educators,” O’Meara said, “Every year, we ready 100 percent of the traditionally prepared teachers working in a 100-mile radius of the campus. Eighty percent of those typically stay in the classroom for 10 or more years.”

He continued, “Our international service-learning experience is a high-impact student success experience, which prepares our teachers for success and gives them the skills to prepare global citizens. It is a true point of distinction for our University and College. 

Once admitted to the College of Education, most students complete their degree in 2-2.5 years.  Eligible teachers can receive federal student loan forgiveness, O’Meara noted.

He said TAMIU is a big part of sustaining a quality teacher pipeline that will continue to fuel South Texas’ success stories.

“Teachers have a remarkable charge, unlike any other profession.  It is noble and it is good and it changes lives daily.  At the end of the day, every teacher knows that he or she has made a difference.  We have only to look at each of our own lives to know and understand the transformative difference a teacher can make.  TAMIU is committed to recruiting, supporting and retaining teachers and principals to continue to make that cherished difference,” he concluded.

For information about TAMIU’s College of Education programs, please contact TAMIU’s Graduate School at 956.326-3020, email graduateschool@tamiu.eduor visit offices located in the Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, room 206.

For more on the University’s story, visit tamiu.edu or its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

For more about The Texas A&M University System’s “We Teach Texas” Campaign, visit, https://weteachtexas.org